Review of Uncanny X-Men Issue #60

Uncanny X-Men Issue #60 (September 10, 1969)

Story By: Roy Thomas

Art By: Neal Adams

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Brief Description: The mutant pteranodon Sauron faces off against the X-men for the first time!

Characters Introduced in This Issue:

*Sauron (Karl Lykos): Dr. Lykos was a physician, geneticist, and hypnotherapist who was a friend of Professor X. However this friendship would end after the X-Men discovered that Sauron used his hypnotherapist appointments to suck the life force out of his patients. Sauron got his powers by getting bitten by a mutant pteranodon.

-Powers: Sauron is able to suck the life force out of living things and put it into his body. When he absorbs the life force of superhuman mutants, he transforms into a pteranodons, a winged prehistoric creature. Lykos also has the power of hypnosis that he can use by looking into someone’s eyes.

Recurring Characters in This Issue: Larry Trask, Havok, Polaris, Blob, Mesmero, Banshee, Unus the Untouchable, Mastermind, Toad, Quicksilver, The Vanisher, The Scarlet Witch, Iceman, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel, Cyclops 

Synopsis: 

This issue begins right where the last issue left off. Larry Trask and his Sentinels have been defeated and the X-men are now fleeing Trask’s base to seek medical attention for Havok, who was wounded in the battle with the Sentinels. Unsure of where to bring Havok for treatment, the team brings Alex to Professor X’s old friend Karl Lykos. 

We soon discover that Lykos is not what he seems. Lykos says he uses hypnotherapy to cure illnesses, but he really uses his therapy sessions to drain the life sources from people.

The issue then goes into Lykos’ back-story and we find out how he got his powers. When Lykos was a child, he went on an expedition with his father and some of his father’s colleagues. There was a young girl on the expedition named Tanya who Lykos fancied and during the expedition, she went missing. 

Determined to find Tanya, Karl goes out searching but when he finds her she is surrounded by Pteranodons. Karl is able to save her from the dinosaurs, but not before they bite him. Later on, Lykos discovers that he has the power to drain the life from people when he accidentally kills his dog.

As time went on, Lykos discovered that he craved human life force like a drug and couldn’t go very long without it. He then set up his therapy business as a cover to deal with his habit. 

The issue then shifts back to the present and once Lykos absorbs some of Havok’s life force, Lykos can’t control himself anymore and he turns into Sauron for the first time.

Sauron takes flight into New York City looking for more people to drain and the X-Men hear about the villain on the news. Angry that there is a flying villain on the loose. Angel storms out without Cyclops’ permission to confront Sauron. 

The issue ends with Angel looking out in fear as Sauron begins to hypnotize him.

Review: 

This issue was both very interesting and a little bit boring at the same time. I love that Sauron has now emerged in the X-Men and I enjoyed his origin story, but I wish there was more action in this issue. The X-Men literally do nothing this entire issue. They flee Trask’s base and then refuse to investigate Sauron (Besides Angel). 

That being said, I am still really excited for the next issue and for Sauron’s story to continue. I’m sure there will be more action when the X-Men actually face this new villain.

I learned recently through an amazing podcast called Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men that Sauron was originally intended to be a vampire, but the comics code authority did not allow vampires in comics. So instead of having Lykos be a vampire, Roy Thomas decided to make the villain a “vampire” pteranodon instead which is infinitely cooler than a regular vampire. Sauron is one of Marvel’s most unique villains and I always enjoy him. 

Besides the lack of action, the only other things I have a problem with in this issue are the faces of Cyclops and Beast without their masks. I like Neal Adams’ art in general but Hank and Scott look ridiculous without their masks on in this issue. Hopefully Adams fixes this soon.

The one thing I did really like about this issue was the characterization of Polaris. She is finally starting to become a fully realized character in this issue. She demands to be a part of the X-Men team and they let her in.

Polaris also declares that she doesn’t need a man to be happy and I love that.

All in all, the presence of Sauron elevates this issue to a 3 out of 5 stars, but I hope the next issue is much better.

A few final notes: 

1. Sauron’s life absorbing powers are pretty awesome looking. 

2. The Danger Room returns! And I really enjoyed Jean and Polaris using their powers to test the boys.

3. And finally, I love that the X-Men left all of the other mutants stranded at Larry Trask’s base. They definitely could’ve helped them out or they could’ve tried to imprison the evil mutants.

On another note I am back from vacation and I will be back to posting more regularly again now!

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Review of Uncanny X-Men Issue #60

  1. The podcast seems to have gotten it slightly wrong. It’s not that he was originally planned as a vampire, it’s that they wanted to see how close they could get to a vampire. A Comic Book Legends Revealed article explains, with a quote from Roy Thomas: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2010/02/11/comic-book-legends-revealed-247/

    As for the issue, I really liked it. Adams’ art is fantastic, and Thomas’ writing is better in this period than in his previous run. However, there is one silly moment, when Scott apparently forgets which door leads to the Danger Room. He lived in the house for years. He used the Danger Room every day. It would be like someone forgetting that a door led to the kitchen.

    • Ooo ok good to know.

      And yeah Adams’ art is awesome. Do you like Cyclops and Beast’s faces though? They seem a bit off to me in this issue. Haha and I did enjoy that ridiculous moment with Cyclops. You’re right. How could he forget about the Danger Room?

    • In 1954, psychologist Dr. Fredric Wertham wrote “Seduction of The Innocent”, a book where he presented his studies that indicated the harm that unregulated comics were doing to kids. Recently, his work has been looked at in detail, and it appears that he fudged the data considerably to prove his point. Nevertheless, although he is a figure in comic book history, he was not a comic book villain; I should judge that he was sincere in believing that the comics of his day caused harm, and Wiki notes that he objected to the unrealistic depiction of females; a problem that still persists in comics, TV, movies, etc. to this day.

      In the same year, 1954, the major comic publishers started the Comics Code Authority, modeled after the 1930 Hollywood Production Code, which had similar goals. There was a long list of restrictions, but it included the depiction of undead, like vampires and zombies. In both 1930 and 1954, the government did not regulate after all, but let the industry police itself.

      So in Sept 1969, Roy Thomas created Sauron, the quasi-vampire.

      In Feb 1971, the ban on vampires and the like was dropped. In Oct 1971, our friend Roy Thomas created Morbius, The Living Vampire as an enemy of Spider-Man. Morbius was a biochemical vampire, not a supernatural one.

      Stan Lee says his stories were usually ok with the Code, but when they weren’t, he would just leave off the Authority’s seal from those issues.

      In 1983, Alan Moore was doing his famous massive retcon of Swamp Thing for DC, and editor Karen Berger. They decided to leave the seal off the comic. Later, Berger started a semi-separate imprint within DC called Vertigo, which was for Mature Readers, and as far as I know, never used the seal.

      About 2000, Marvel dropped the Code entirely. About 2010, DC and several others also left, and when Archie left the Code, the Authority fell apart entirely. The use of the seal was acquired by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. As the CBLDF tends to fight most attempts to censor comics, it is quite ironic to see the seal on CBLDF publications!

  2. When i read the story I found Sauron’s origin a real head-scratcher (a were pterodactyl?). Now I get it, but I still don’t like it.
    It does seem odd they didn’t at least help out Pietro and Wanda.

    • Yeah Sauron is a pretty ridiculous character, but I think he is the best example of a super crazy silver age villain that is actually interesting and entertaining. He is always a bit silly, but I’m a fan.

      And you’re definitely right about Pietro and Wanda. They’re Avengers at this point. The X-Men definitely shouldn’t have left them alone and vulnerable with that many of their enemies.

      • In the Sentinel story in Avengers that I mentioned, a flashback shows the other mutants come very close to beating the crap out of them (this being when Wanda had lost her powers) before everyone leaves.

      • Did you hear that Pietro and Wanda are allowed to appear in Avengers movies, but they can’t be referred to as Magneto’s children and they can’t be called mutants; in fact, mutants cannot be mentioned in Avengers movies? All these rights are reserved for the group that is doing the X-Men movies!

      • O yeah I know all about the confusing world of the Marvel Universe being broken up into three movie companies. Fox owns the X-Men and Fantastic Four, Sony owns Spider-Man, and Marvel owns basically everything else. I’m very happy that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are able to exist in both Fox and Marvel’s universes though. It’s sad that Magneto can’t be a part of Avengers, but I’m sure they’ll play up that storyline in X-Men so I’m ok with it.

  3. Polaris seems interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever read any stories with her yet. Thanks for mentioning the Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men podcast. I’m totally going to go listen to it.

  4. I liked how ugly Beast looks without his mask. I mean, his name is Beast. Not every character needs to be dashing. There are some panels where he looks downright revolting, though, haha.

    Count me in as a Polaris fan. I kike how she dismisses Bobby in favor of Alex, and I like how she invites herself to be on the team, and I wish she had done it sooner. Imagine if most of this run was the 06? She’s a great character who has had her ups and downs in how she’s been used over the years. I hated the butch Polaris of the Bronze Age but it led to some fun stories. Of course, she’s flourished every time Peter David wrote her. Decimation wasn’t kind to Lorna, though, and neither is the current Magneto book that basically fridged her to give Magneto a power boost.

    And can I just say that I love each and every splash page (the initial splash page, not the double page spreads) by Neal Adams. They’re so dynamic. It’s such a shame the title is going into reprints just as it really hits its stride.

    Re: not helping Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver? Why would they? They’re so fickle. Sure, at this point they HAD been Avengers but then they’d switched back to thr Brotherhood after Wanda was injured. (What was up with that anyway? Wanda got shot, and did she get a brain injury? Why did that make them return to Magneto’s fold??)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s